There is a war we must wage in our mind. Indeed, the mind is the central battlefield of our Christian journey. The mind is where we “live,” where we are alone with our thoughts and with God; it is where we think, deliberate, and decide. Our “thought life” determines our ultimate destiny:
Sow a thought, reap a deed.
Sow a deed, reap a habit.
Sow a habit, reap a character.
Sow a character, reap a destiny.
It all begins in the mind. If you can get a person to think in a certain way, you can control his feelings, decisions, and ultimately his destiny. The world and the devil seek access to our minds. They try to influence us, to sow seeds of sin, doubt, and confusion. In addition, our own flesh seems to like being deceived. Too easily we are like those who, as St. Paul says, will not tolerate sound doctrine, but with itching ears will gather around themselves teachers to suit their own desires (2 Tim 4:3).
We must engage in this battle both for ourselves and those whom we love, especially today when the distracting influences of the world are so numerous and so cunning. There is much in the writings of St. Paul to give us encouragement in this battle. Consider these passages:
We tear down arguments, and every presumption set up against the knowledge of God; and we take captive every thought to make it obedient to Christ (2 Cor 10:4-5).
Every thought should be subject to the standard of the Gospel: is this it in conformity with what God teaches or not? If it is not, it is to be taken captive and either excluded or made pure in reference to Christ.
Is this what we do? Too often it is not! Instead, we tolerate error, darkness, impurity, foolishness, and outright blasphemy. Rather than rendering it captive, we allow it free access to our innermost mind and heart. Through movies, music, the Internet, and all sorts of media, we expose ourselves to what is base, boorish, uncharitable, unchaste, violent, dysfunctional, and just plain evil. Not everything in the world is evil or base but, as St. Paul says in Thessalonians, Test everything. Hold fast to what is good. Abstain from every form of evil (1 Thess 5:21-22).
When ideas or any content fails this test, we ought to arrest it and hold it captive. Too often we tolerate or even welcome it. We have too little sense of the battle for our mind and we are easily deceived, carried off by any foolish, unchaste, or ungodly thing. Pay attention, fellow Christians; we are at war and the battleground is our mind.
So, I tell you this, and testify to it in the Lord: You must no longer walk as the Gentiles do, in the futility of their minds. They are darkened in their understanding and alienated from the life of God because of the ignorance that is in them due to the hardness of their hearts. Having lost all sense of shame, they have given themselves over to sensuality for the practice of every kind of impurity, with a craving for more. But this is not the way you came to know Christ. Surely you heard of Him and were taught in Him in keeping with the truth that is in Jesus. You were taught to put off your former way of life, your old self, which is being corrupted by its deceitful desires; to be renewed in the spirit of your minds; and to put on the new self, created to be like God in true righteousness and holiness. Therefore, each of you must put off falsehood and speak truthfully to his neighbor, for we are members of one another (Eph 4:17-45).
We are so easily mesmerized by the world, seeing its ways as sophisticated, classy, and cultural—but this is a deception. St. Paul (with the Holy Spirit) speaks of these things and describes those who promote them as lost in futility, desensitized to evil, as having darkened minds and hardened hearts. We are summoned to separate ourselves from all that and be renewed in our minds and washed in the truth. In other words, do not admire the glamorized evils of this world or by its often-foolish priorities and futile pursuits.
Do not be conformed to this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind. Then you will be able to discern what is the good, pleasing, and perfect will of God (Rom 12:2).
There is no safer place in the world than inside the will of God. Our goal is to be transformed into the image of God, not conformed to a doomed and passing world. Our goal is to be sober and to discern the will of God in all things. This alone will bring us satisfaction and salvation. Only by the clear discernment of the will of God can we know the way home.
Are you on the battlefield with the Lord? Where is your mind right now? Be attentive to the battle for your mind. Jesus Christ is the same yesterday and today and forever. Do not be carried away by all kinds of strange teachings (Heb 13:8-9).